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In 1935, 99-year-old former slave Shadrach asks to be buried on the soil where he was born to slavery, and that land is owned by the large Dabney family, consisting of Vernon, Trixie and their seven children, and to bury a black man on that land is a violation of strict Virginia law. Written by
The film is set in 1935. When Paul walks into the house past his father and up the stairs (at the beginning of the film), a smoke detector is visible on the ceiling at the bottom of the stairs. See more »
[Paul has learned curse words from the Dabneys and is yelling them into the closet.]
Son of a bitch, whorehouse, Jesus Christ, pisspot, asshole!
Come on, Paul, it's time to go to church!
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I've read quite a few reviews here and at other sites, and this movie sure seems to be taking its lumps (although I did read some favorable reviews). I don't know, though -- I rather liked it. It is a simple and straightforward story. It is certainly sentimentalized to some extent, but I am not one of those people for whom that is anathema. Despite its hard times, depression-era setting and poor white trash characters, there is a certain amount of idealization in the film. My gut feelings are that in real life Mr. Dabney, being a product of his time, would be more hard-hearted towards old Shadrach. Andie MacDowell is likeable as Mrs. Dabney, but she looked far too healthy and aerobically svelte to be the beer-guzzling alcoholic mother of a large, unwashed, lice-infested family living below the poverty level. Just having her clutch a beer bottle in almost every scene didn't quite pull off the illusion. Despite its simplification of complex social issues, its idealization of human nature fondly remembered in old age left me with kind of a warm fuzzy feeling. Some reviewers have rated "Shadrach" as being of "TV movie" quality, but I think a vice common to many TV movies is avoided here. Namely, trying to deal with tough, complex issues comprehensively in 90 to 120 minutes. The story is scaled down to its essence, and as such is nicely handled in an hour and a half. While Shadrach himself is sort of an enigma, trying to tell the story of his 99-year-long life in any sort of satisfying way could have expanded the film to epic, miniseries length. A film which touches on the issue of slavery in America, even obliquely, is bound to leave a certain amount of people unsatisfied if it does not proceed to rail at length about Man's inhumanity to Man. I just don't think that was the point of the film, though, and no film can satisfy everyone's expectations. I just see this as a sweet, sentimental, (and sure, rather unrealistic) view of events in a certain time and place, as seen through the eyes of a child. The fact that in a dream sequence young Paul sees Shadrach being presented with a Micky Mouse watch in the middle of the 19th century illustrates that we are seeing a child's-eye view of this story. I liked "Shadrach" enough to buy the video, and I think it's gotten sort of a bum rap.
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